Sage hen debated

The Nevada Mineral Exploration Coalition, a group of small mining companies, has objected to a Bureau of Land Management environmental assessment (EA) of a proposed expansion of the Snowstorm Exploration Project near Midas.

The EA touched on the impact on the sage hen, also called the sage grouse, once a common Nevada game bird.

The Coalition wrote to the BLM in response to the EA, “Exploration is commonly a short term, low impact activity and our experience over many decades of working in areas inhabited by sage grouse has been that sage grouse can thrive near exploration projects, and that our exploration projects can operate within sage-grouse habitats without endangering the birds.”

But John Hadder of Great Basin Resource Watch responded, “I think the Sage Grouse issue is revealing the ‘man behind the curtain.' Explorations do have significant impacts to varying extents, of course. Areas that might be considered for special protection that have ‘wilderness characteristics' would no longer be under consideration once exploration occurs. There needs to be public discussion of cumulative impacts from mineral exploration—and other extractive exploration—in the Great Basin.”